|The Naming of Cats|
|April 26, 2008|
Because she was not going to stay "Meeja," the next subject to be discussed was the cat's name. Dad got a brainwave on the way home. He wanted to name the new arrival "Portia" after the female lawyer in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. Vanessa and I made disgusted noises. Back on speakerphone, I told them that an ex-boyfriend of mine made a habit of naming pets for cars, so I wouldn't agree to it. When my parents wondered why I got to have any say in the matter at all, I self-righteously reminded them how Dad cheated me out of naming Vanessa before she was born.
See, Dad had tried to make Jennie and me feel part of the whole baby naming process, and after the family brainstormed a list of possible names, he told us to assign ranking values our top three. Then, Dad manipulated the numbers so his first choice came out as the one we all "agreed" on. Or, as he explains it now, "My vote was weighted more than yours."
I gave them my list of potential names: Brontė ("We want it to be a female name," Dad said. "All the Brontės were women," I informed him. "Well, they had a father didn't they?" Dad asked. "Do you think anyone cares about the father?"), Trollope (Because Dad likes Anthony Trollope, whose mother was writer Mrs. Trollope, and also because I think naming a fixed female cat "trollop" would be funny), epic poetry goddess, Calliope (Dad liked this because they could call her "Callie," but Nessa kept saying, "Calli-o-pee," which effectively scuppered that choice), Miss Marple (she could be called "Jane" for short), and Garbo.
Finally, exhausted, I hung up only to call back a few minutes later and tell them Mathra's suggestions, "Ada" for mathematician Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, and "Emmy," for Emmy Noether, another female mathematician. The phone finally at rest for the duration of the day, Mathra observed, "This family really comes ALIVE when cats are involved!"
A few days later my mother emailed that Dad had hit upon the name "Chessie." Dad's a train fanatic and "Chessie" was the name of the sleeping kitten mascot for the Chesapeake-Ohio RR. I think it fits the newest Vander Weide fluffpot spectacularly.
The Vander Weide Menagerie still stands at 16
Mom & Dad: Marvin (cat) and New Arrival (cat)
Me & Mathra: Poppadum (cat) and Hunca Munca (cat)
Nessa: Mandy (dog), Berlie (cat), Baloo (cat), Wooster (cat), and Minerva (cat)
Jennie: Tansy (dog), Shay-Shay (dog), Poirot (cat), Agatha (cat), Little One (cat), Nutmeg (cat), Dobby (cat), and Oscar (cat)